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Crop Cover Essay

1197 words - 5 pages

Vineyard Floor Management I. Clean cultivation: 1. conserves moisture 2. destroys organic matter at surface 3. may damage soil structure 4. changes soil porosity-root growth is restricted 5. earthworm populations are lower 6. suppresses root growth in upper layer 7. increases the breakdown of nitrogenous compounds into nitrates.8. May develop hard pan.COVER CROPS Choice and performance are site specific, so test in a few rows before deciding.Two types: 1) disked or 2) perennial sod Considerations: 1. costs vs. benefits 2. irrigation method 3. tillage practices 4. nitrogen needs 5. frost concerns Cover crops are generally only grown in row middles, with under-row vegetation controlled by mulch, herbicide, or tillage.Advantages of cover crops: 1. provide organic matter for the soil 2. provide mulch for under-row 3. increase water infiltration rate 4. control erosion 5. reduce dust in vineyard.6. Dry out and stabilize the soil in wet areas 7. Facilitate machinery access in spring 8. Act as host for predators?? Disadvantages of cover crops: 1. must cultivate to prepare a seed bed 2. can be expensive to sow and maintain 3. legumes may be a more expensive source of N than fertilizer.4. Increase frost risk 5. Competes for water and nutrients Monocultures are often used, but this could be a mistake: 1. could develop soil borne diseases or plant diseases 2. local niches such as sand streaks in the vineyard 3. differing soil nutrient availability in some areas may be unfavorable for single species Multiple species (polyculture): 1. providing multiple species in a mix may enable one species to thrive in areas where another might be weak.2. Attract a wide diversity of insects.Cover crops for disked vineyards: 1. Grown for high biomass to add organic matter to the soil. Continual use of this organic matter enhances soil microbial populations, improves soil structure, and improve nutrient cycling.2. In general, they are sown in the fall and disked under in the spring --- referred to as "green manure".3. Usually one or two types: pure legumes or legume/grass mix.a. pure legumes: usually a blend of bell beans, vetch, and field peas. Used to add a large amount of available N to the soil. Problems: produce most of the N in the spring; some peas are shallow rooted and subject to drought, vetch can become a weed.b. Legume/grass mixes---additions of grasses such as barley, oats, or cereal rye in a mix gives several benefits: fibrous roots...

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